Volume 94, Issue 88

Thursday, March 8, 2001


The smaller worlds within Western's sphere - Students more than just numbers at affiliated colleges

The smaller worlds within Western's sphere - Students more than just numbers at affiliated colleges

By Jill Shaw
Gazette Staff

The affiliate colleges are as much a part of the Western experience as exams, Homecoming and The Ceeps. But what does it mean to be a King's, Brescia or Huron student?

Any affiliated college in Ontario has a religious base, but what it means to be an affiliated student goes much deeper, said Theresa Topic, principal of Brescia College. Smaller student populations and a sense of community are some of the features that make affiliates a distinct world within Western, she said.

Gerald Killan, principal of King's College, said the advantages of attending an affiliated college can be summed by King's motto, "The best of both worlds."

"Small classes and the intensive faculty-student relationship is one of the great attractions here," Killan said, adding the sense of community is greater at affiliated colleges, making the experience of getting to know people much different. He said he felt the King's student can take advantage of Western services while gaining a Western degree at the end of their university careers.

"[It is the] small intimate community that gives undergraduates a personalized experience," said Huron University College principal David Bevan.

John Hamin/Gazette

With a student population of only 900, Bevan said the students are often known to staff, fostering a sense of security and personal development. "Academic and maturation problems are picked up more easily."

Killan said these advantages are stressed when King's attempts to lure potential students; many students who desire to undertake a student leadership role are attracted to King's.

"We work hard to get information out that we are the alternative choice," said Topic, adding their standard promotions consist of high school visits, print media, and interactive media, such as Web sites and CD-ROMs.

Killan said little pressure is put on students to choose King's over another school and stressed there is no major difference between attending any particular college.

"We've all got uniqueness," Killan said. "We all share the same strengths of a liberal arts college."

Christine Chipchase, a third-year sociology student at Brescia College, said her experience at the school has been extremely beneficial. "It was a very positive experience. I felt a great sense of community at Brescia."

Chipchase added her academic experience has been enriched because of the opportunity to interact with peers and professors. She said she also felt the all-female environment at Brescia had prepared her to enter the workforce where women have begun to play a more significant role.

Chipchase said she also enjoyed the experience of living in a smaller residence. "It worked for me because it was like your family. You get to know everyone, [you] get to interact with them everyday."

"Affiliated colleges have been involved with Western for many years. They play a role in making Western attractive," said Ted Garrard, Western's VP-external.

Killan said the relationship between Western and the affiliates is complementary in nature. "We try to develop distinctive but complementary aspects, we try not to duplicate courses at Western. We hire faculty that is distinctive."

Chipchase said she felt the relationship between Western and the affiliates is strong, as affiliates are included in many main campus activities.

Topic said the advantages of being affiliated with a large institution like Western are many, especially on a bureaucratic level in dealings with the province. Western has specific personnel dedicated to dealing with the province to allow affiliate faculty and staff more time to devote to their students, she added.

According to Bevan, attaining funds can be difficult because of the size of the college. "We don't have the range of programs that can generate a high profile."

He said he felt the government places greater priority on increasing the number of places at larger universities to prepare for the double cohort, an expected doubling of first-year students in 2003-04 due to the elimination of Ontario Academic Courses.

While some smaller institutions may face the challenge of lobbying the government for funds while providing a personal atmosphere for students, not all do.

Neil Horn, liaison officer at Trent University, said Trent did not face any problems attaining funds from the government and the main advantage of attending a smaller institution – decreased class size – outweighs any disadvantages a small institution may face.

"There is more personal contact with professors," Horn said, adding this stems from the fact only 3,500 full-time students attend Trent. Trent employs a Residential College system, he added. Students enter one of five colleges at the beginning of their first year and stay affiliated with it for the duration of their university career, graduating with a degree from Trent.

"By starting people off with small groups, it's easy to get to know each other," Horn said. The colleges are instrumental in providing students with an identity within the university.

Another challenge facing affiliated colleges arises from people mistaking them for community colleges, Chipchase said. Therefore, it is important to make the distinction that they are universities.

"Sometimes [affiliate colleges] are not recognized because people look at the larger scale [University of Western Ontario]," she said.

Killan said he has not had much of a problem dispelling students at the idea that affiliated colleges are the same as community colleges. "We communicate it in the literature."

Bevan said the recent name change from Huron College to Huron University College was done in order to alleviate any confusion of Huron being a community college as the word college can indicate different things. The change also makes Huron's role as an affiliate more clear.

Killan said he also praised the recent Huron name change. "It's wonderfully beneficial," he said, adding King's would have done the same, but a school named King's University College already exists in Edmonton.

"We must stay 'King's College' or change drastically," he noted.

Topic said Brescia is considering a similar name change in order to further the image of Brescia as a university in the minds of students. "It seems like a reasonable thing to do," she said.

Predicting a bright future for affiliated colleges, Killan said King's, Huron and Brescia all play integral roles at Western. "We're vibrant, doing wonderful things, adding value to Western."

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